The peeping Tom of Vršovice

Нусле (Фото: Штепанка Будкова)

I sit and write this letter from Prague on my balcony, hoping that that grey cloud looming large at the end of the street comes no closer for fear of my laptop's survival, and indeed so that I avoid an electric shock. My view from up here consists of a tram lurking at the end of the road, waiting to wind its way back across this city along route number four to Kotlářka, if I'm not very much mistaken. And of course there are the neighbours, who I try to pretend that I can't see in their flats at all, and in return I hope they do the same to me.

But, if I were to breach this code of not looking in people’s windows, then I would see directly across from me a young couple, I think both professionals of some sort, who have just invested in a chrome-tastic kitchen, and who spend every waking hour getting their money's worth out of that Poggen Pohl or Gorenje-designed interior. They've hung a sombrero in the window, I suspect in part to obscure the view of nosy-parkers like me but, I'd also like to think, to remind them of some particularly fun and tequila-soaked holiday to Mexico sometime in the past.

Does this Letter from Prague officially make me into a peeping Tom? I am worried the answer is yes. But let's continue nonetheless down a floor to the man and the woman who I only know by their duvet, which they put out to air at the first sign of a half-ray of sunshine peeping through the clouds. Given the progress of the aforementioned rain cloud, I think they too should be nervous.

A couple of floors up there are the neighbours who haven't yet bothered to replace the plastic bags tacked to their window frames with actual glass. I suppose we are fast approaching the season where not actually having any windows matters the least, but nonetheless, looking at that flat I am reminded of all of the tours of Edinburgh I was taken on as a girl, where we were told about the window tax, which turned real windows into luxuries and gave rise to a whole number of ingenious trompe l'oeils – complete with fake flowers in boxes, spooky painted people looking out and the like. I think that tax was implemented because glass was at a premium, which, I can only imagine, it is in Vršovice as well.

But what all these people must be seeing on my balcony right now is a clump or two of surphinias looking forward to the oncoming shower, and a girl less thrilled about the prospect of getting wet. So I shall sign off, and hope that my neighbours salvage their bedspread in time.